There are many ways of structuring your marketing team as you grow, ranging from full-time teams to outsourced models. Although it’s tempting to say there’s one right way to do things, the truth is probably a little more complex. Both approaches have their pro’s and con’s.
Agencies generally draw from a pool of experts who can be called on as needed, when needed. This means they can tailor their offering to suit your requirements, and although they charge a higher rate, you only pay for what you actually use. Work is usually split into clear projects, which can lead to faster outcomes and concise reporting. Their commitment is to you (the client), which can sometimes impede on customer-focus and can disproportionately encourage short-term thinking. For campaigns, production, and fast results, agencies are generally a safe bet.
Internal Marketing teams are embedded into the company. They are typically better at understanding the culture and needs of the business, and buying-in to the vision and goals. They are a fixed cost and can easily be called on for ad-hoc tasks, or to provide general support and holistic advice. They are better at driving internal change within the company, and can take a long-term approach to multiple campaigns over time. Internal staff generally prefer a full-time wage, which can be inefficient as many roles are needed at irregular times. This can create dependence on existing capabilities (“we have a video team, so we must make videos”), and means leaders prioritise keeping team members occupied at the expense of company growth.
Many companies will benefit from a balance of both. Small internal teams can be used to define strategic objectives, be the custodians of company change and take a long-term approach to activities. This can be complimented by agencies or contractors, who create high-quality campaigns and projects as they are needed.
The example below is made to suit some mid-size businesses, but different approaches can work depending on the needs of the company. The main takeaway is that although polarising opinions are often exciting, the sweet spot often lies somewhere in between. I encourage businesses to get creative - learn the benefits of each option, and get the best of both worlds wherever you can.
Example structure for a mid-size business:
A. Marketing Director / Executive
Management of the marketing strategy and budget. Oversees the brand and aligns marketing objectives with company objectives. An advocate for customer-centricity and innovation.
B. Agency / Contractors
Executes campaigns and projects as required. Minimise overheads and only use when needed. Accountable for specific results per-campaign.
C. Marketing Production
A small internal team, predominately for business-as-usual tasks, such as social media, newsletters, website tweaks, etc.